Susan is a life insurance advisor. She understands how to make cold calls, how to follow up on leads and referrals and how to offer excellent customer service. Yet, she’s amazed at how much more successful her colleague, Michael, is, when she puts much more time and sweat into her work than Michael seems to do. She wonders what is missing in her approach.
The key difference between Michael and Susan’s approaches is the fact that Michael has trained himself to be an “active listener.” He uses the T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S. active listening model to not only to help him maximize his sales deals, but it is a powerful technique that helps him communicate effectively with his wife and teenagers as well.
Here are the components of your sales TRIUMPHS:
Treat your client with respect and value. Developing rapport with the client is a crucial first step. Smile, position yourself at the same level (sitting or standing, depending on what the client is doing), and slightly lean toward the client, maintaining eye contact. Make sure your cell phone is on silent and you can give undivided attention to the client.
Listen to what the prospect is saying, don’t shuffle papers or start thinking about your response. Just listen to him or her. Regardless of what the person asks, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to answer immediately. It’s OK to say, “That’s a great question. Give me a day or so to research our products to find the one that precisely addresses your question.” Clients can be long-winded, nervously asking a lot of questions. Cutting off a speaker may lose you the rapport you need to develop. Always give the speaker the courtesy of finishing a point before you interject yours. Again, take notes so you won’t forget what you wanted to say.
Reflect the meaning of what your client is telling you before you actually respond. The best way to understand your prospective client is to make sure you are listening carefully and the best way to do that is to reflect or paraphrase what you heard him or her say before you comment on it. An example is, “What I’m hearing is that you want your family to be taken care of if you pass on within the next 15 years.”
“I statements” are powerful. As you paraphrase and reflect back what the client is saying, you can use “I statements,” which are very powerful. For example, “I am getting the feeling that you are uncomfortable with this product and would like some other options.” For you to start with “You” would be much more threatening for the client: “You don’t like this product?”
It is important to realize that by understanding what the listener is saying, doesn’t mean necessarily agreeing with him or her. You are simply showing that you are hearing the prospect’s concerns. Example: “I hear your concerns because of your last experience with an insurance advisor. Let me get the information you will need to make you feel better about this.” Always acknowledge the speaker and his or her position before voicing your opinion.